Charge against Templeton man accused of looking at kids reduced to misdemeanor

Prosecutors reduced a criminal charge Tuesday of annoying a child under 18 against a Templeton man after verifying the details of a sex crime he committed 24 years ago.

Prosecutor Greg Devitt said 50-year-old Billy Gene Mannon’s 1986 conviction of forced oral copulation in Lancaster was against an adult woman.

To charge a felony in the current case that alleges he annoyed girls in Templeton, the past crime would need to be against a child.

Mannon has pleaded not guilty to the newly-filed misdemeanor allegation of annoying or molesting a child.

Sheriff’s Department officials allege Mannon used binoculars in March to look at the girls running near Templeton High School.

Authorities posted fliers in Templeton alerting the public to his presence.

The mother of two girls also reported two alleged encounters between him and her daughters that involved Mannon staring at and possibly following one of the girls in a car, Sheriff’s officials said.

Mannon’s attorney, Pierre Blahnik, argued in court Tuesday that his client was misidentified. The case has been set for trial May 4.

Blahnik told The Tribune after the hearing that the girls picked his client’s photo out of a lineup based on their recollection of the face in the fliers posted, and that they mistakenly thought a different man, an older man, was staring at them.

“They got the wrong guy,” Blahnik said. “We have witnesses who will confirm that.”

Mannon showed his frustration over the case in court after Judge Michael Duffy asked him if he’d like to say anything in regards to his case.

Mannon said, “I want a rope around his neck,” in reference to Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt.

Mannon also leaned back and pointed his finger at Devitt to imitate shooting a gun from his hip before he was led out of the courtroom by bailiffs.

With the reduction of the charge, Duffy dropped Mannon’s bail from $100,000 to $5,000 Tuesday.

Mannon also was arrested in March on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine and previously entered a guilty plea to that charge.

He has an additional $15,000 bail for alleged violation of his probation for that conviction, putting his total bail amount at $20,000.

Upon Devitt’s request, Duffy ruled that Mannon isn’t allowed to be within 100 yards of a school.